What Does The Bible Say About Killing Animals?

What Does The Bible Say About Killing Animals? October 13, 2015

Does the Bible say anything about animal rights? What about killing animals? Is it permissible to do so?

Regard for Animals

The Bible has a lot to say about animals and primarily it concerns the humane treatment of them. Proverbs 12:10 says “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.” Those who take good care of their animals, whether they’re domesticated or not, are called “righteous” by God. God is highly concerned with the way we treat His creatures, great and small. Indiscriminant killing of animals simply for sport is not having regard for them. I don’t mean hunters who can help control overpopulation of deer due to the lack of natural predators. These men and women hunt and often consume their capture.

The Law Concerning Animals

In the early American frontier days, people used to shoot buffalo without discretion right from the train. It was a great slaughter of such a magnificent species but some of this was intentional as a way to starve the American Indians off the plains so it was doubly deplorable, especially knowing how God feels about His creatures. Jesus said “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matt 10:29). Throughout the Bible there are examples of non-cruelty to animal’s laws. For example Paul knew that “it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain” (1st Cor 9:9) which is found in Deuteronomy 25:4. This law allowed the animal who was working for the owner a chance to eat while he worked.  Did God believe in the death penalty? Yes, as it is written in Leviticus 24:21 “Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death” but the focus is on whoever kills an animal should make good on that. In other words, there is some price to pay for killing an animal which, once again, proves that God values animals.


Killing for Food

If you think about, something has to die in order for humans to eat. Whether it is animal or plant, they both exist, for the most part, to serve humanity and to provide food for a burgeoning planet. God declared in the beginning that “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Gen 9:3) and that included meat, minus the blood of course (Gen 9:4). What is everything that lives that was to be food for Noah and his family? It must have included animals and as such, it was necessary to kill the animals. It was completely permissible by God. Even the Jews would later eat lamb and beef which was kosher for them and that meant that they had to kill them first. If someone’s against killing animals then they cannot eat meat and still be against it. Or they could be a strict vegetarian for only the strictest of vegetarians can claim to eat no meat but the problem with that is many animal byproducts make their way into hundreds of other non-food products and end up on store shelves.

A Matter of Survival

There are many places in the world where humans depend on animals and in some cases, mammals, to survive. Their choices are; hunt, kill, and eat or starve and die. To them, it’s not an ethical issue. Depending on the geography and location they may have no choice but to hunt. Jesus once said that it wasn’t what went into the man that defiled him, “since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)” (Mark 7:19) so we should “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters” (Rom 14:1). If someone has a problem with you eating animal products, “do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink” (Col 2:16). Jesus wants us all to understand “whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him”  (Mark 7:18b).


Sometimes a culture doesn’t have a lot of choice as to avoid products of animals that have obviously been killed. It is bigger than any of us so we should just accept it for what it is but this doesn’t mean we turn a deaf ear and a blind eye at animal cruelty. It should be condemned and those who do such things should be prosecuted by the law. There is no excuse for the inhumane treatment of animals. It was immediately after the creation when “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Gen 1:31) and part of that creation were His creatures for which He has high regard for and He expects us to as well.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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